The Election Commission’s decision on digital campaigns this election season and filing nominations online has got many political parties in a bind. Barring the BJP, others, even the Congress, never bothered to understand the future of virtual space and social media to tap voters.
Realising that it may be too late for the upcoming state assembly polls to match the BJP’s footprint, the Congress has begun to prepare for 2024 General Elections.
Soon, the Congress will launch an interactive app (‘sanvaad’ app) where Rahul Gandhi will answer the queries of a common man. A senior leader associated with the process said, “No, it will not be a broadcast of his (Rahul Gandhi) speeches or a PR work like the Namo app. It will be interactive. You can ask any question and the stress would be on the common man to ask him anything. Also, he will be regularly on the Internet through the app.”
Interestingly, the Congress top brass has now woken up to the WhatsApp culture. After being cynical about it and criticising the BJP for peddling false news through WhatsApp, the Grand Old Party is now planning a Rahul Gandhi WhatsApp group, where party cadres at the district level will be part of it. The Pradesh Congress Committee and district chiefs will be given the responsibility to ensure that the WhatsApp information reaches every door. The only hitch is how to ensure that everybody received the message? For that, the Congress-ruled states have been roped in to provide funds and infrastructure to make sure core voters are targeted and vote bank is connected.
Besides, party cadres will be trained to make quick videos on their phone and upload them to the party’s main computer server so that leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could use them to connect with people. Although Priyanka and Rahul arrived late on social media but the siblings have a sizeable presence and traction. Rahul has 19.5 million followers on Twitter while Priyanka has 4.4 million.
As the race for 2024 heats up and many regional parties are keen on aligning with alternatives to BJP, the Congress has decided to use its national presence to take a lead over them. “Better late than never,” says the Congress.